Starting Your Research

Never had to do research before? We've got some great tips here to get you started.

Understand Your Assignment

  • Read through your assignment as soon as you receive it.
  • Ask your instructor right away if there is anything you do not understand.

Formulate Your Research Question

  • Unless your instructor has already given you a research question, you will have to develop a question.
  • Start with a topic that interests you – and follows the guidelines of your assignment – then refine it until it is workable question.
  • If you are having trouble developing a research question, or even deciding on a topic for your paper, talk with your instructor as soon as possible.

Develop Searchable Keywords

  • Identify the major concepts of your research question – these major concepts are your searchable keywords.
  • Build upon some of your initial keywords with synonyms (a thesaurus is often helpful).
  • Sometimes a little bit of background research is needed to identify a few more keywords.
  • Make a list of keywords that you can keep adding to or crossing out as you do your research.

Find Sources

  • Use your keywords to search in the library’s catalog  and in the library’s databases.
  • Start with simple searches – you can always add or change the keywords in your search later on to narrow down your search results.